Illinois PAs to Access Covid Testing; Illinois Emergency PA System; National Tracker; Nursing Home Action Alert


May 12, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Illinois PAs to Access Covid Testing; Illinois Emergency PA System; National Tracker; Nursing Home Action Alert

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today we have some updates that are specific to Illinois, and some updates that are national. As a reminder for those who may not know, Access Living’s office is in Chicago, so for today we are sharing hometown issues up first.

Major Victory, Illinois Personal Assistants to Access Covid-19 Testing: In an important step forward for thousands of Illinois personal assistants (PAs) and the people with disabilities with whom they work, the State has agreed to allow the personal assistants under the Home Services Program (HSP) to access Covid-19 testing. The announcement from SEIU Healthcare is at this link. Advocacy is continuing to make sure PAs can access personal protective equipment (PPE), paid sick leave, and hazard pay, as well as ensuring that people with disabilities also have access to testing and PPE. Ensuring that PAs can stay safe is also important for the ongoing work to transition people with disabilities from institutions to the community.

Reminder, Illinois Emergency Backup Personal Assistant Program: As a reminder, the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services has an emergency personal assistant (PA) back-up program administered through the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL). If you currently receive home services through the state and need an emergency PA due to COVID-19, you call INCIL at 1-800-587-1227 or use this email form. If you need and emergency PA and you live in CHICAGO, you can call Access Living at 312-640-2100 or use this email form.

National Group Tracks Covid-19 in Congregate Settings: Nationally, there is a great deal of focus on infections and deaths in nursing facilities. However, nursing homes are only one of several categories of congregate settings housing people with a range of disabilities, from psychiatric hospitals to developmental disability institutions to group homes. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has set up a national case tracker at this link to collect reports about Covid-19 infections and deaths in all kinds of congregate settings. While some states have been readily posting what data is available, this is not the case in every state. Check it out and contact them if you have cases to report.

Prevent Federal Weakening of Nursing Home Rules: Our colleagues at the Center for Public Representation (CPR) have put out an alert that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is requesting public comment on nursing home regulations called Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR). CMS proposed to weaken the rules to make it easier to people covered by the rule to be admitted and harder for them to transition out to the community. CPR has put together model comments for organizations and individuals and worked with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) to create an easy link for individuals to comment. More information, including links to the model comments, is on CPR’s website here. Comments are due by 11:59 pm May 20th. Please spread the word!

Thank you as always for your continued advocacy every day.